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How to Budget for Your Postsecondary Education

22-02-22 Lakehead-Georgian 0 comment

Here’s How to Plan Your Budget

So, your plan is to go on to some sort of postsecondary education after finishing high school. Good plan. You’ll have fun. You’ll learn. You’ll make lifelong friendships.

Do you have your money figured out?

Start early!

Like just about everything, the earlier you start to plan for your postsecondary education, the more prepared you are. Maclean’s magazine interviewed over 23,000 students from across Canada to find out how they pay for school and where that money goes. If you’re a parent, guardian, or an unusually forward-thinking high school student, this info can help keep your money-stress in check.

Where does the money go?

According to the survey, the total cost of postsecondary education, per year, is about $19,478.75. The two biggest chunks of money go to rent and tuition.

  • Rent – 40% (about $7,790)
  • Tuition – 34% (about $6,625)
  • Groceries – 8% (about $1,560)
  • Food on campus – 5% (about $975)
  • Trips home – 4% (about $780)
  • Books – 4% (about $780)
  • Alcohol – 3% (about $590)
  • Daily travel – 2% (about $390)
  • Recreation – 1% (about $195)

So here you have a general set of guidelines for building your own budget. But getting specific about your unique situation is important. Students who responded to the Maclean’s survey attend school all over the country, and the cost of education in different parts of Canada can vary. Living off campus in Barrie is more affordable than living off campus in downtown Toronto. An accurate budget for your postsecondary experience will help you focus on your studies and not your money worries.

How can I get more specific?

  • Ask yourself if you want to live on campus or off. First-year students are guaranteed a spot in residence, but living in residence at Georgian’s Barrie campus will cost $7,440 for the fall/winter 2020-21 year.
  • If you plan to eat on campus a lot, you can load money onto your ONEcard. If you think you’ll eat on campus once a day, it’s recommended you load $1,000 onto your card to start, and see where that takes you.
  • Living on campus in Orillia includes one of two meal plans. Depending on your meal plan choice, the cost of residence is either $12,734 or $13,334.

Living on campus generally means you don’t spend as much on your daily travel, so you can eliminate the costs to get to and from school. And, if you don’t plan to take many trips home during the school year, cut the trip-home budget as well.

Living off campus looks a little different.

  • We have extensive resources available to help you find off-campus housing accommodations. It might be worthwhile to find roommates to help share your costs.
  • Make sure you know what’s included in your rent: hydro, water and cable/internet may be extra.
  • If you have a car, campus parking costs $53.55 per month.
  • A bus pass is $66.75 a month, or $3.25 per round trip (if you can shop and get back on the bus in under an hour).


  • Never shop on an empty stomach!
  • Check grocery store flyers for bargains or download a grocery flyer app to keep you up-to-date on weekly sales. And, compare prices between stores, the differences can help you save money.
  • Clip coupons or become points members to receive discounts.
  • Buy non-perishables (canned goods, noodles, etc.) in bulk when on sale.
  • Buy generic brands as most are cheaper and still taste great.
  • If possible, plan meals ahead.
  • Make a shopping list and try to stick to it.
  • Avoid shopping at convenience stores, which tend to be more expensive.


  • Buy used books whenever possible. Check with students in previous years that might be willing to sell them to you.
  • Only buy books you absolutely need (suggested readings can usually be found on reserve in the library).
  • Look for electronic versions of books, many of these versions can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a paper copy.
  • Purchase your supplies at discount or large department stores for the best price.
  • If you need a computer for your program, shop and compare; buy what you need at the best price.

Wait, you’re not telling me exactly what my experience will cost?

No! Because everybody has different priorities and spends money in different ways.

If you live at home, the money you spend on rent and groceries will probably be $0. So, if you’re looking to take the biggest chunk out of your spending, that’s how you can do it (but you’ll miss out on a unique experience that’s probably worth having).

Here’s how you build your accurate student budget for Lakehead-Georgian. Sit down with your family, ask questions like do I want to live on campus? Do I need the car? Do your best to find accurate information about rent, your spending habits and other costs, some of which are available in this blog.

The next step is figuring out how you’re going to pay for everything. Maybe that involves getting a job on campus. Maybe that involves different sources of money.

Then, input your income and resources and expenses into our handy student budget form.

When you think you have a handle on your money, submit your application to Lakehead-Georgian, or accept your offer. You’ll experience the best of both worlds, college and university, and we can’t wait to meet you.